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Apple's Announcements Tomorrow

At the risk of becoming the very last resident of the blogosphere to speculate about Apple's announcements tomorrow, I thought I'd take a few moments to talk about what Apple might do. In rough order from more to less likely:

I suppose it's possible that Apple isn't going to announce some sort of movie viewing service, but if they're not, then they have done an unthinkably bad (for Apple) job of managing expectations. So I expect a movie viewing service.

A movie viewing service implies, to me, some sort of way of watching it on one's television. Steve Jobs is far too smart to believe that anything more than a fraction of consumers would care about watching movies on their computers. This implies some sort of living room device, either a wireless video streaming solution or some sort of computer-based solution. I'd bet on the former.

Many observers believe the iPod nano is due for a capacity increase. I agree. I think we'll see 6 or 8 gigabyte nanos tomorrow. No need to change the design itself -- it's still best-of-class.

I haven't heard much talk about the iPod shuffle, but I have a hunch that it's going away. Unlike the nano, the shuffle is no longer best-of-class. It needs to be updated to compete. Besides, simply adding more capacity would make the display-less shuffle even less usable than it is now. The question is, does Apple create something new to take its place, or simply lower prices on low-end nanos to take over its slot?

Will Apple finally announce a widescreen iPod tomorrow? I'm guessing they will. Their huge advantage in digital media is the iPod itself. If they announce a movie viewing service that isn't compatible with some version of the iPod, they'll be leaving their biggest asset to one side. Put another way, without iPod compatibility, what is Apple's strategic advantage in movie viewing vis-a-vis Amazon?

I'm guessing Apple won't announce the iPhone tomorrow. Every time I think about it, the only way the economics of an iPhone would work would be for Apple to become an MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator, piggybacking on an existing carrier, like Virgin Mobile does). And it's hard to imagine Apple rolling out an MVNO tomorrow while keeping it a complete surprise. I suppose Apple could announce an iPhone for delivery three or four months from now, but I have trouble imagining Steve Jobs doing such a thing.

So, in summary:

  • Movie viewing service: near-certainty
  • TV video viewing device: near-certainty
  • iPod nano capacity increase: highly probable
  • iPod shuffle replacement: probable
  • Widescreen iPod: possible
  • iPhone: unlikely
Tune back in tomorrow afternoon to see how I did.

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